Louis-Joseph Chevrolet was born on December 25, 1878 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchatel, Switzerland. He was a racing driver and the founder of the Chevrolet
Motor Car Company, which was acquired by General Motors and is their best-known brand worldwide.
In 1886 Chevrolet’s family left Switzerland to live in Beaune in the Côte-d’Or département of France. It was there as a young man that Louis Chevrolet developed his mechanical skills and interest in auto racing. He worked for the Roblin mechanics shop from 1895 to 1899. He then went to Paris where he worked for a short time before migrating to Montreal, Quebec in Canada in 1900. The following year, he moved to New York City here he was hired by FIAT.
While working for the Buick motor company, Louis Chevrolet learned car design and started designing his own engine for a new car in 1909. Shortly thereafter, he partnered with William C. Durant to start the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in Detroit, Michigan. Chevrolet had differences with Durant over the design of the Chevrolet automobiles and in 1915 sold Durant his share in the company. The next year, the company was folded into Durant’s General Motors.
After his ill fated partnership, Chevrolet went into the racing car industry. He partnered with Howard E. Blood of Allegan, Michigan to create the Cornelian, a state of the art racing car which he used to place 20th in the 1915 Indy 500. In 1916, he and his brother Gaston started Frontenac Motor Corporation, designing and producing another line of racing cars.
Louis Chevrolet proved to be a natural mechanical genius. He had little in the way of a formal education. Louis was the older brother of Gaston Chevrolet (1892-1920), who won the 1920 Indianapolis 500 in a car he had built. Louis also competed in the race four times, with a best finish of 7th in 1919, and his brother Arthur also competed twice.
Louis Chevrolet died on June 6, 1941 in Detroit, Michigan and is buried in the Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. His bust stands at the entrance to the museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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